Trait theory and personal construct theory have

Trait theory and personal concept theory have markedly different attacks to the apprehension of single differences. Outline these attacks and measure the strengths and failings of each. What consequences does each attack have for understanding agency-structure dualism?

Assorted theories of personality have been postulated throughout the class of history, from the early Grecian belief in the balance of the tempers to modern-day versions of trait theory that theorise on the importance of neurotransmitter activity. The success of these theories, in footings of their prognostic capacity, and their legitimacy, in footings of whether they truly reflect the complex diverseness of human life, remain heatedly contested. The skips of one theoretical point of view by and large lead to reconceptualisation and the development of another position ; an epistemic phenomenon Kelly termedaccumulative fragmentalism.Consequently psychological theories of personality can be split into four paradigmatic groupings: trait and biological theory, cognitive societal, psychodynamic and humanistic. Of these four this paper will turn to merely two, trait theory as proposed by Eysenck, and personal concept theory, which is loosely humanistic. In measuring the comparative virtuousnesss of these two theories I will see the rules from which they developed every bit good as mentioning to peculiar applications and their influence on the pattern of clinical psychological science. The concluding tranche of the inquiry focuses on the interrogative subject of agency-structure dualism, and so I will reserve until the terminal of the paper a treatment of the deterministic deductions of each theory.

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Trait theory has frequently been thought of as a development of common people psychological science, with a trait being usefully defined as, “any comparatively digesting manner in which one person differs from another.” ( Butt, 2004 ) . Unlike common people attacks to characteriological nominalism, wherein the English linguistic communication furnishes a possible 18000 footings of mention, trait theory tends to reductionism in the strongly held belief that fewer variables makes for better scientific discipline. Methodologically, factor analysis has been used to constellate statistical consequences of questionnaire informations in order to do the informations more manageable and thereby more prognostic. Cattel ( 1965 ; cited in Richards, 2002 ) condensed the equivalent word of character down to a 16-personality factor stock list ( 16PF ) of “source traits, ” with each beginning trait finding a specific array of “surface traits.” Eysenck ( 1953 ) took a bolder attack and theorised the being of two higher order dimensions, extroversion and neurosis. This binary division of footings produced mathematically more stable consequences but was criticised by Cattel’s followings for being less psychologically utile. More modern-day versions of trait theory follow a “big five” scheme ( Goldberg, 1992 ) , increasing the figure of mensurable factors in visible radiation of the greater psychological public-service corporation it affords. Regardless of these differences, and whichever categorization system you may favor, what unites trait theoreticians is the belief that behind an infinite assortment of behavior there exists a figure of regulating personal qualities.

Personal concept theory offers an alternate survey of personality that is philosophically in diametral resistance to trait theory. First proposed by Kelly ( 1955 ) , personal concept theory offers a gnosiological analysis of the constructs employed by psychologists. Significantly, Kelly’s theory is monist, and refuses the derived functions of individuality theory. Of issue are non built-in traits but, instead, the phenomenological visual aspect of the universe to persons. People’s experience of life consequences in a peculiar building of world and their personalities reflect this experience, minute by minute, in any given state of affairs. Salmon describes the difference between the two epistemes by proposing concept theory to be “a psychological science of procedures non merchandises, of verbs non nouns.” ( Salmon ; cited in Butt, 2007 ) . Personality is non predetermined, but is coloured by environmental factors and personal histories. Where traits are applied they are more likely to inform us of the individual who construes than they do about the individual who is being described. Personal concept theory hence exceeds more general concerns of diagnosing and approaches a theory of personal acquisition ; an application of the theory usefully entertained by Salmon examines larning in schoolroom state of affairss and makes pertinent claims about the restrictive effects of current instruction policy.

The two chief theories under examination are hence at discrepancy on a figure of issues. Trait theory employs psychometric measuring techniques similar to those used in the survey of intelligence. The implicit in troubles of conceptual cogency, of ascription, and of complementarity during the procedure of probe, are hence concerns peculiar to this field. Personal concept theories needfully have troubles of their ain, such as how cognition and acquisition are to be balanced outside of any consideration of intelligence. The psychological science of single differences demands account in a manner that goes beyond experience without needfully excepting it as a factor.

One of the strengths of trait theory is that it offers a prognostic result that can be used by clinicians in their efforts to prosecute beneficently with other people. Eyesenck’s theory of extroversion and neurosis topographic points personality really much in the being of the individual. The personality as such is that portion of the individual that intervenes in the stimulus-response procedure such that single responses consequence.

the being is an perfectly indispensable portion of any stimulus-response type of psychological science, because it is the being which intervenes between the stimulation and the response, and beings differ, both with regard to past support agendas and besides with regard to innate potency and other variables. [ 1 ]

The biological footing of personality is hence, for Eysenck, the get downing point of a research into the diagnostics of neurotic upsets. Eysenck used his typology of personality dimensions to better understand the capable places of criminalism, and linked back to Galen by detecting that delinquency was an index of choleric personality. ( Eysenck, 1960 ) . What is clear from this procedure of rational archeology is that trait theoreticians may be merely redescribing behavior without really coming to a better apprehension of it. Later theories that ground trait theory in neurophysiology effort to avoid this trouble by concentrating on how the procedures at a neurological degree produce trait behavior. As Butt ( 2004 ) notes, there are conceptual and empirical jobs with these modern-day versions of trait theory. Empirically there is no unidirectional causality between encephalon activity and behavior, which is to state that one, can non find whether encephalon activity causes behaviour or whether activity consequences in alterations in biochemistry.

Drugs that increase the degree of 5-hydroxytryptamine in the synapses of the CNS sometimes alleviate depression. However, this does non demo that neurotransmitters cause temper provinces. …Neurotransmitter degrees are invariably in flux. Aspirin relieves concerns, but no 1 suggests that concerns are caused by a deficiency of it. … In many ways, trait theory is built on confusion between correlativity and cause. [ 2 ]

Conceptually there are weaknesss excessively. Butt ( 2004 ) points to the fact that recourse to neurobiology in the hope of explicating traits does non take to better apprehension, merely todifferent dianoetic registries,or what Kelly calledconstructive alternativism.Eysenck’s trust on phenotype and genotype differentiations was persuasive yet basically misdirecting. Basically the same topic is being described from different position in the hope that a reductionist point of view can break arouse the truth. This is of class a false belief, it is a telescoping of point of views which adds small to a monist place. Projecting this conceptual review in historical footings it is possible to see an convergence with the review of methodological analysis afforded by Richards. Richards, by conceive ofing how Eysenck would hold framed his work in different historical periods, suggests that Eysenck would hold rather every bit good devised a “popery” or a “heresy” graduated table had he been working in the 17th century. An accusal that serves to do trait theory and Eysenck’s work on neurosis seem about specious and prompts Richards’ observation that,

( a ) that the lasting being of this syndrome is by no agencies guaranteed: and ( B ) that maintaining our questionnaires up-to-date would really reflect a impetus in significance of the construct itself. [ 3 ]

The public-service corporation of Eysenck’s theory to clinical psychological science is clearly much undermined in the visible radiation of these weaknesss. The inclination towards redescription as pseudo-explanation weakens any claim of clinical efficaciousness that Eysenck made. The utility of personal trait theories in the domain of human resources and employment is likewise called into inquiry by these unfavorable judgments, nevertheless techniques such as the 16PF remain nominally utile where choice processes require distinction of similar campaigners.

Salmon’s review of current instruction policy includes perceptive observations that translate good into a review of trait theory. Similar to Richards’ historicism, Salmon inquiries the procedure of acquisition and transmittal of cognition as potentially the acquisition of excess truths. Trait theory is clearly every bit unfastened to this accusal as any other theoretical place.

‘Knowledge’ , far from being a standardised, externally defined entity, becomes something impermanent and unfastened to alter. [ … ] the ‘reality’ position accorded to by and large held premises can non stand with a place which recognises multiple worlds, and the basically probationary nature of what is known. [ 4 ]

Salmon calls to the attending of pedagogues the Kellyian position where acquisition is kindred to populating. The superior concepts that are most cardinal to an individual’s sense of ego drama as big a portion in the procedure of acquisition, as do the simple facts that are taught. As the sense of ego alterations over clip, as life experience additions, so to does the apprehension of what has been taught. Social concept theory hence eschews any deterministic placement with respects traits ; where it can be read as deterministic, nevertheless, is in the primacy it gives over to the social effects on ego buildings.

Interrogating both of the theories that are scrutinised in this paper with respects to agency-structure dualism it is clear that trait theory operates harmonizing to the rule of absolute individuality. The organic footing of traits proposed by Eysenck is predicated on the rule of individualism. The codifications of mention, such as genotype and phenotype, depict how trait theoreticians conceptualise an internal split in human psychological science. Persons are seen as a aggregation of traits and these traits are seen as being internal and independent of society. Cause is internalised as genotype, whilst the behavior as it is perceived is termed as a phenotype. Trait theoreticians minimise their ain function in keeping the categorization system, thereby denying their function in the societal link. Social concept theoreticians on the other manus are more interested in the societal dimension and so when they consider human bureau they besides demand consideration of how the constructions of societal life have influenced single readings of the universe. Social concept theoreticians by and large see the constructions of human life as being in a province of dynamic flux and so societal determinism is accepted as a ductile truth of societal life. Butt ( 2004 ) makes an first-class commentary on the psychological pursuit for an apprehension of personality that draws attending to the located quality of truth.

Explanation and apprehension in the field of personality means an ever-more powdered analysis of the interface between head and organic structure, taking finally, it is hoped, to an apprehension of the ‘interaction ‘ between them… it is a wholly ineffectual scientific pursuit. We might every bit good hunt for how the elements of air, fire, Earth and H2O contri­bute to the devising of the psyche.

Both trait theory and societal concept theory have much to offer societal psychological science despite the reserve presented in this paper. Surely, as psychological theory based in common people psychological science trait theory offers a statute and coherentist history of societal psychological life. Abandoning the theory, instead than prosecuting in the changeless procedure of polish, would merely function to impoverish our corporate humanity. Social concept theory with its focal point on the building of significance requires an antithetical place for intending to follow, and so with mention to Salmon’s analysis of schoolroom state of affairss it is easy to see how of import it is to keep theories, merely if for the intent of originating idea. Afterall, Butt ( 2004 ) may joint a valuable unfavorable judgment of personality theories, yet he still requires the theories of ancient Greece to do his point.


Butt, T ( 2004 )Understanding people.Basingstoke and New York ; Palgrave Macmillan.

Butt, T ( 2007 )Individual Differences.In erectile dysfunction. Langdridge, D & A ; Taylor, S. ( 2007 ) Critical Readings in Social Psychology. Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Eysenck, H. & A ; Rachman, S. ( 1965 )Causes and Remedies of Neurosis.In erectile dysfunction. Langdridge, D & A ; Taylor, S. ( 2007 ) Critical Readings in Social Psychology. Maidenhead, Open University Press

Kelly, G.A. ( 1955 ) The Psychology of Personal Constructs, New York, Norton.

Richards, G ( 2002 )Puting Psychology in its Topographic point: A critical historical overview.Hove ; Psychology Press.

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